Development of Thermal Spray Circuit Board (TSCB) Technology To Replace Electroplating and "Print-and-Etch" Circuit Board Fabrication Techniques

EPA Contract Number: 68D99072
Title: Development of Thermal Spray Circuit Board (TSCB) Technology To Replace Electroplating and "Print-and-Etch" Circuit Board Fabrication Techniques
Investigators: Lenling, William J.
Small Business: Thermal Spray Technologies Inc.
EPA Contact: Manager, SBIR Program
Phase: I
Project Period: September 1, 1999 through March 1, 2000
Project Amount: $66,627
RFA: Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) - Phase I (1999) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: SBIR - Pollution Prevention , Pollution Prevention/Sustainable Development , Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR)


Due to the pollution concerns associated with circuit board fabrication, there exists an enormous incentive, both environmental and economical, to replace electroplating with a more environmentally friendly yet cost-effective way to deposit copper onto polymeric substrates. Thermal Spray Technologies (TST) has developed a proprietary thermal spray process that enables copper traces to be directly deposited quickly and economically onto a circuit board. This environmentally friendly process conserves energy, greatly reduces water consumption, eliminates nearly all process chemicals, and possesses the ability to recycle all copper material. However, the electrical resistivity of the thermal-sprayed copper is higher than that of copper foils used in conventional circuit boards, a fact that limits the applicability of the thermal spray process. The high resistivity originates from copper oxides that were created during deposition. Incremental improvements in thermal spray coating properties by way of reduced oxide levels will allow inroads into the printed circuit board market and will open up new applications inaccessible to existing circuit board technology. An investigation is proposed to provide further insight into possible remedies of the detrimental coating oxide formation. The outcome of the research would be the development of an environmentally friendly process that would inevitably replace nearly all "print-and-etch" and electroplating processes currently used by the printed circuit board industry.

Using TST's current customer base, the thermal spray circuit board (TSCB) technology will prove itself under a variety of operating conditions and then begin to grow into other fields where electronics are used. TST first will focus production efforts on single-sided and double-sided TSCBs. If the TSCB technology becomes an accepted circuit board process, the entire electronic packaging industry will be changed drastically and beneficially. With better understanding of the TSCB technology, other circuit board applications will be developed, including multilayer and hybrid circuit boards.

Supplemental Keywords:

small business, SBIR, pollution prevention, engineering, EPA., Economic, Social, & Behavioral Science Research Program, Scientific Discipline, Waste, Sustainable Industry/Business, cleaner production/pollution prevention, Technology for Sustainable Environment, New/Innovative technologies, Engineering, Hazardous, Market mechanisms, Economics & Decision Making, carbon bond formation, electroplating, printed circuit boards, circuit board manufacturing, electronics industry, recycling, innovative technology, coating formulations, thermal spray circuit board (TSCB) technology, pollution prevention, cost effective, innovative technologies, metal recycling

Progress and Final Reports:

  • Final Report